Gilbert White’s garden diary is well known but eighteenth century garden diaries kept by garden staff are rare. A young gardener at Audley End House kept recently discovered diaries of his work in the cucumber and melon garden and separately in the kitchen and flower gardens for several years from 1795-8, at the end of the 30-year+ tenure and major developments of Sir John Griffin Griffin, who had worked with Capability Brown and others to transform the grounds. It highlights the practices and structures needed to keep the great house in fruit, vegetables and flowers year round and reveals the huge range of food grown. Almost 100 years later, a nineteenth century undergardener at Audley End did the same and comparisons can be drawn.
The diary also contains recipes and hand-copied sections of works on growing different crops, and a timeline (added by his son) of the gardener’s subsequent career: he ended as Head Gardener to the young Lord Nelson at Standlynch (renamed Trafalgar) Park.
Susan Jellis is garden historian and the author of Bloomsbury Parks and Gardens, published in 2020.
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